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City seeking feedback on streamlining Lead Safe Certification process; Residents First legislation in effect

Thursday, Mar 14, 2024

Thursday, March 14, 2024 — Cleveland — At today’s Lead-Safe Advisory Board meeting, City leaders from the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Building and Housing, the Department of Community Development and the Department of Public Health presented proposed updates to Cleveland's lead safe programming that involve increased engagement with and support for landlords throughout the certification process alongside accountability for those who fail to comply with the 2019 law.  

“As we continue to work toward a lead-safe city, it has become clear that we need to streamline the certification process” said Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “We plan to accelerate this critical work through a more engaged and hands-on approach with landlords as well as ramping up enforcement using new tools included in the landmark Residents First legislation.”

Lead-Safe Living Environments: City seeks public feedback on Lead-Safe Certificate Regulatory Guidance

Cleveland’s initial approach to enforcing the lead safe law focused on regulation, repair and incentives with the goal of compliance. The proposal introduced today seeks to measure midstream landlord engagement with City systems, lower barriers for 1–3 unit landlords, and provide robust technical assistance to 1-3 unit landlords to increase lead-safe living environment opportunities for our residents.

“We want to work with property owners to create a clear pathway to becoming lead-safe” said Emily Collins, a senior advisor in the mayor's office focused on housing and lead initiatives. “The City is retooling to focus on small landlord compliance schedules, technical assistance, and a regulatory guidance document. A new Building and Housing-led compliance unit for 1 to 3 family properties and a referral program for incentives, loans and grants will assist small landlords in becoming certified.”

From today through April 26, 2024, the city is seeking feedback on proposed regulatory guidance to navigate the city’s lead safe programs. While the ultimate goal of these programs is safe housing through lead safe certification, the updated guidance is intended to offer more clarity and support for property owners and a process that is easier to understand and navigate.

Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer is co-chair of the Lead Safe Advisory Board and is vice-chair of the Council’s Health, Human Services and the Arts Committee. “We want to realize the dream of the 2019 lead law and the dream of a lead-safe Cleveland,” said Councilwoman Maurer. “We have come a long way, but we need to do more – much more. Making the process accessible, straightforward, and connecting property owners with real resources is one way to accelerate our progress.”  

For more information and to provide feedback on Lead Safe programs, visit Lead Safe Certification | City of Cleveland Ohio.

The public is encouraged to send comments and questions on the new guidance to Emily Collins at by 5 p.m. on April 26, 2024.  

The Administration will make the same presentation to City Council’s Health, Human Services and the Arts Committee on Monday, March 18 at 9:30 a.m.

Residents First: Deadlines extended for landlords and non-owner-occupied property owners

Following the passage of Cleveland’s new Residents First legislation, all owners of non-owner-occupied residential properties are required to register and pay registration fees for each of their properties. A certificate approving rental occupancy will also be required in order to rent in good standing with the city and be compliant with the new legislation.  

These changes will also require additional documentation — including an affidavit naming a local agent in charge, proof of current taxes or an established payment plan and lead-safe certification — to be submitted by property owners prior to the issuance of a rental occupancy certificate.

“These new requirements are part of our ongoing effort to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of residents in rental properties throughout the city,” said Cleveland’s Director of Building and Housing Sally Martin O’Toole. “We understand that new processes take time, so I want to encourage Cleveland landlords to take this seriously but don’t panic. We are here to assist and offer flexibility in this first year of the program.”

The city’s new rental registration online portal is set to launch in the coming weeks. The due date for rental registration fees has been extended to May 30, 2024, and Certificates Approving Rental Occupancy must be obtained by September 1, 2024.  

In the coming weeks detailed instructions on how to register non-owner-occupied properties, including the required forms, will be distributed. Failure to register rental properties as required may result in penalties, fines, and possible criminal prosecution.

“Ensuring compliance with property maintenance codes improves neighborhood stability, increases property values, and protects the investment made by property owners,” Martin O’Toole added. “The city appreciates the effort involved in making these changes and is committed to working with landlords to navigate the new process.”

For more information about Residents First, new requirements and deadlines, visit Residents First | City of Cleveland Ohio.